East coast to west coast. I didn’t think twice about this, I just said, “heck yes.” Because truth be told, I really want to live out west [sorry, Maine], but life dictates New England [for now]. What was I saying “heck yes” to? A run at Mt. Bachelor, of course. A 13.1 mile run – a fun run.
|boston to oregon|
Two weeks ago I adventured across all the states to find myself in Bend, Oregon [rad town!] for the first Under Armour Mountain Running Series race at Mt. Bachelor. And, I’m still talking about it, two weeks later, so it must have been pretty good.
I arrived in Bend on Friday afternoon just in time for pre-race festivities. I picked up my rental car, then I picked up my bib for my first 13.1. I may have stopped by the hotel to drop off my bags, but this was a whirlwind trip. So it went much like pick up the car, pick up the bib. Every time I say this is my first 13.1, I sort of laugh, I mean I can check off 50ks and 50s, a thing called the Georgia Death Race and even 100 miles, but I had never completed 13.1 – in a race day scenario. But, theres always a first for everything. So I had every intention to run for fun, soak up the miles and enjoy Mt. Bachelor.
PRE – RACE FESTIVITIES
Race weekend started at 10 Barrel Brewing Company. Packet pick up was easy, the staff was helpful and in the matter of a few quick minutes I had everything I would need for the next day. Now, it was time to shake out the legs. After traveling all morning [I departed the east coast circa 3:30 AM], I was so happy to be moving. A short 1.7 miles was the perfect afternoon pick me up – good company, easy paces and a large group settled into a fun run around Bend. Back at 10 Barrel Brewing, there was a lot of running chit chat, meet and greet with new friends [I found Amanda, maybe you better know her as Run To The Finish] and a fun Q & A with Under Armour’s runners.
Some of their best race day and training advice [yup, I was the girl, noting the insight…because it’s too good not to share] —
On training for mountain races [specifically, ultras]:
“. . .train on the mountain, know the terrain, be on your feet for a really long time. . . ”
“. . .get vert, build downhill legs, and eat as much as you need to eat. . .”
“. . .you have to eat. . .” [a bit of advice: set a timer on your watch reminding you to drink and eat]
“. . .learn the downhill, do not coast. . .”
“. . .hydration is key at altitude. . .” [this point was noted well before Q & A — my water intake was on point, even more than usual}
“. . .if it’s too hard to talk, then the effort is too hard for recovery running. . .”
This is good advice. Make note.
What you may not know [because I had no idea], Mt. Bachelor is actually a volcano, a dormant volcano, but a volcano. That means much of the terrain is made up of rock – and, while I won’t classify it as really technical [I do live in New England afterall], you definitely need to pay a little bit of attention to the foot work.
When the Q & A ended, I spent some time hanging out, witnessed an epic arm wrestling battle and decided to call it an early night [for west coast time].
When you walk up to an event, you immediately feel something. And, when I walked up the hill to the base lodge on Saturday morning, I knew I had made the right choice to travel across the country for 13 miles. The festival area was calm, it was early, and vendors and runners were just starting to settle in. But, among the calm, was the excitement of race day.
I had plenty of time before my race — I’m a morning person and the start time was 9:00 AM. Lucky for me, I could hang out, chat some more, drink my coffee and water [hydration is key – remember..?] and get ready for a fun run [a shorts and sports bra run — yes!!]. There were no nerves, just anticipation of elevation and beautiful mountain views. And, a lot of good conversation with those running the race. There were new runners, experienced runners, and fans too. That’s what I love about this series – there is something for everyone – 5k to 50k – and, an end of day vertical challenge. And, for those waiting, a fun festival area — lifesize jenga and dunk tank included. Trail running is pretty awesome, but for all the things that it is, it is not a spectator sport. So a fun space for those waiting for their runners is absolutely spot on.
When we lined up at 9:00 AM, I didn’t know what to expect. I have never run on the west coast [with the exception of California, but that’s not the same], and our mountains certainly don’t reach such elevation here on the east coast, but I also knew it was a fun run and I was going to soak it up [even if I only had 13 miles to do so].
Heck, it was my longest run post 100 [the whiplash really through my training plans down the drain]. We high fived and crossed over the start line to immediately run…up. You guessed it, a mountain race, and vert from the start. It was dusty, so dusty, and we all settled into some pretty uncomfortable paces from the start.
Once I made it to the top of the first climb and settled into the winding single track, I knew it was going to be a good day. Because…
When you have views like this, how can you not enjoy putting one foot in front of the other. The terrain varied throughout the course – single track, rocky fireroads, dry open spaces with shrubs [the hardest place to note where you were going] and a good amount of elevation change.
The overall takeaway – the course would definitely require a little grit and challenge you to take on the miles you signed up for.
There was plenty of energy on course – whether it be good conversation with new friends, a high five or good job, or the humble acknowledgement of the change in race day plans because elevation is definitely real [very real], there were smiles all around. Even when it got hard, the spirits stayed positive.
The aid stations were fully stocked and the staff was helpful and while I ran self supported, I made a point to stop and thank each group for being out there [never forget to thank the volunteers – they make the event happen].
So I ran, and jogged, and learned where other runners were from, if this was there first race, and I took a lot of pictures. I told you, I was going to soak up all the mountain had to offer over those miles and I did. I followed the flags, ran off course once, felt the sun getting hotter, stayed on top of nutrition and hydration [good practice!] and I smiled.
I crossed the finish line a few short hours later feeling really good [that’s the benefit of fun running – the mountain doesn’t take you out] and received my medal from the cutest little girl who happily gave out medals to every finisher – all day long. The other benefit to running 13.1, I had the whole day ahead to enjoy the people, the fun and mountain sun [which got really hot!]. So, a quick and true dirt runner shower and I was back outside – when, you have less than 48 hours in Bend, you do all you can to take it all in.
And, all courses are dog friendly — yes, spending time with this pup post race made my day!
Before the day ended, I headed up the mountain, via chairlift to take in the finish of the vertical challenge. There is nothing quite like racing straight up the mountain and the participants gritted it out – running where they could, hiking where they couldn’t and pushing through the hard all the way to the finish. There is nothing like taking the chairlift to the top to soak in the views either, so choose wisely.
I rounded out the night with a quick repack of all the things, a few more glimpses of Bend, and a comfortable hotel bed. I was back on a plane at 5:00 AM the next morning. It was a whirlwind trip, but, I will be back – Bend was too sweet to not plan for a few more hours. And, I’m putting this on the 2018 race list – 50k distance, of course.
From Topher Gaylord:
This race is for those…
“…with a twinkle in their eyes, a hunger in their belly, and a desire to come out…”
He’s right. The course, the good company, the laid back vibe – it makes this race. Mountains have an incredible power of asking you to show up. You don’t have to take my word, the pictures and video will tell you all you need to know too. If you have been thinking about an event, put this one on your list. Next stop, Killington and then Copper Mountain. If you sign up for the Under Armour Mountain Running Series events, don’t forget to use CRYSTAL20 for a discount. I hope to see you out there!3